As a jet lag remedy and sleep aid, melatonin has been widely studied, and it's now a commonly accepted part of effective jet lag remedy. The latest research seems to show that melatonin aids sleep during times when you wouldn't normally be resting, making it of particular benefit for people with jet lag.

Tart cherry is a natural source of melatonin, which means if you're trying to reset your body clock to an earlier time, such as after flying east, you should have CherryWorks packed in your carry-on. The time at which you take natural melatonin is important. If you are flying east, take melatonin in the evening. If you're trying to reset your body clock to a later time, such as after flying west, melatonin should be taken in the morning.

In World War II, British and Canadian pilots were known to take bilberry supplements for their eyes. To this day, there is a common understanding that berry pigments are good for your eyes but has anyone figured out why? Well, it turns out that we now know the reason behind this.

Compounds found in berry pigments have an affinity for the nerves of the brain and also the eyes. They go into these tissues and interact with proteins that are important for proper vision in the eye. They also can go into the nerves and even cross the blood brain barrier to help fight damaging reactions in the eye called Advanced Glycation Endproducts or AGE.

This AGE reaction happens when a protein in the eye or any other part of the brain or nervous system is damaged and then capped by a sugar. The capping of the protein renders that protein useless. It is ironic that the abbreviation for this damaging process comes out to “A-G-E” because that is exactly what the aging process is about—changes to the tissues of the body that renders them useless. Whether it’s proteins in the eye, the brain, or even something like collagen in the skin clumping and causing wrinkles, this is all caused by AGE!

When enough of these reactions happen in the eye, it can make the tissue where the protein is located useless. Cataracts are a good example of the end result of AGE.

Fortunately, compounds found in berries and cherries help to minimize the damage that can occur to the tissues, thereby minimizing the damage that can occur over time. This is a better strategy than waiting for it to happen and then doing something about it!

These beneficial compounds are found in the pigments that color the outside of cherries and most berries with a dark skin. The pigments themselves are the part of the fruit that provides the most health benefit. The scientific names for these pigments are proanthocyanidins and polyphenols. Proanthocyanidins and polyphenols have been studied in scientific literature for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and they have traditionally been used for years to benefit eye health.

Consuming cherries and berries as part of your diet can give you health benefits, but to get a clinical effect, you should find supplemental sources such as juice concentrates or tablet form.

Have you made a mental note to call someone or run an errand and later realized you completely forgot about it? Have other people reminded you about things you set out to accomplish but didn’t? Some of those items may be normal occurrences for people with busy lives—or they may be early warning signs that it’s time to start taking better care of your brain.

Our brains are made up of fatty tissue, blood vessels, nerve fibers and cerebrospinal fluid. Nutrients and oxygen are constantly moving in and out of the brain based on blood flow. What are the things we need to watch for to make sure our brains continue to stay healthy and function well?

First off, because our brain is partly made of fat,  we want to provide healthy fats to keep our brain tissue strong. Examples of healthy fats are nuts and seeds like walnuts, sunflower and sesame seeds. Additionally, cold-water fish such as salmon contain omega-3 essential fatty acids that fight inflammation and promote healthy brain structures.

Next, since fluids move through our brains, let’s look at the quality of fluids that we take in. Are we drinking enough water? Some health experts would say that a healthy amount to aim for is about half your body weight in ounces. Beverages like coffee, alcohol and sodas dehydrate us ,so we definitely want to stay on top of drinking clean, filtered water.

We then want to think about the nutrients that feed our brain, namely antioxidants. To this end, certain juices such as pomegranate and tart cherry juice are supportive for the brain.

Finally, we need to move it or lose it—literally. A brisk walk or some other type of cardiovascular exercise like swimming or bicycling moves blood throughout the body, including the brain. However, remember that exercise isn’t just moving our bodies. We need to exercise our brains as well. Some fun ways to exercise your brain could be using your non-dominant hand to brush your teeth, writing with your non-dominant hand, doing crossword puzzles or changing your routine in the morning like taking a new path to work or school in the morning.

By using these four tips, you can keep your brain healthy for years to come! 

There’s a lot of buzz about breast cancer awareness this month. Pink ribbons are everywhere. people are running races and sponsors are coming out of the woodwork to support pharmaceutical companies researching new drugs.

Have you ever noticed how much the focus is on fear, disease and death? What if we turned that around and thought of October as breast health month and shifted our thinking to health instead of disease?

And, believe it or not, breast health is deeply tied to your lymph system. Your lymph system removes all the toxins from your external and internal environments. As it turns out, your breasts have many lymphatic vessels moving through them that help them naturally detoxify.

But here's the thing. You have to get it moving. Vigorous arm exercises, like pumping your arms if you’re walking at a fast pace or jumping rope, can help the lymph system start to move. That should be part of every person’s daily exercise routine. Hint, men need to do it too since they can develop fattier breasts also.

Next, stay hydrated. It’s easier to keep your body internally clean if you are drinking plenty of water. An easy way to remember how much is a good amount to drink is to calculate about half your body weight in ounces. So if you weight 150 pounds, aim for 75 ounces of water daily. That’s it!

Finally, remember to take in antioxidants. Antioxidants are the components of different fruits and vegetables that neutralize free radicals. Cherries, berries, and colorful vegetables are high in antioxidants like anthocyanins and bioflavonoids that work to keep you healthy. You can eat them, drink them, or put them on your skin.... tart cherry mask, anyone?

There you have it. Your key to health is all in your hands. The basics are available to you every day. Now get those arms moving, keep your hydration up and stay with your favorite antioxidants. Here’s to your breast health!